On the Need for Deeper Conversations

An issue I have seen come to the fore a few times around now as a polytheist, animist, Pagan, and Heathen, is the idea of 100, 200, and 300-level discourse. I touched on this with my post on being a teacher in the Heathen communities, but not as in depth as I will go into here. I have had an issue with these various communities for quite a while: so much of the material out there is 100-level material, and what material does make it to 200 or 300+ often does not get discussed or receives much in the way of support. What is worse, is that because folks are constantly reinventing the wheel, proverbially or mythologically take your pick, we never really progress far beyond 100 or 200-level in our writing or experiences.

The posts I have been writing on spiritual politics have been fairly cathartic for me because it is digging into deeper stuff than 100 or 200-level. To be frank, I find the spiritual politics discussions to be 300-level or better for the most part. While there is nothing wrong with most folks stopping after 100 or 200-level, we as collective communities need to be more engaged in deeper discussions if we hope to develop them further. For the most part this takes us away from the well-worn path of the written and archaeological sources.

Why?

Because our useful information stops. At some point there is not any more information to reconstruct from unless we are willing to look at other sources. In the case for Heathens this is tends toward looking to folklore, and Lacouteaux is one of our best English-translated resources for this. Once you hit a certain period though, the folklore either stops being relevant or the descriptions of concepts or Beings, like particular vaettir like the dvergar and álfar, tend to blend together. The information just stops being relevant to Heathenry after a certain point. This takes a lot of Heathens out of their comfort zone because from here on out everything is based in personal and communal experience, knowledge, and experimentation.

This unwillingness within large parts of the community to work beyond the bounds of the source material of the home culture(s) our Heathen worldview is based in cuts us off from considering and then exploring both the heights and depths that are possible within Heathenry. If all we ever consider is what is essentially 100 and 200 material at most then we cannot develop much as communities. We also cannot develop expertise in various fields within them, or even individually. If we limit ourselves to what has been found in the written sources we are mostly limiting ourselves to what the elites wanted written down and what has been filtered through Christian lenses in both the sources we have and most of their interpretation. Even if we include what we have through archaeological investigation we have precious little to go on outside of certain better-represented time periods and classes of people. Common people are woefully underrepresented in both written and archaeological sources. It is hard to overstate how much physical material is completely lost to time.

This overreliance on written and archaeological academia to act as an arbiter for our religious communities keeps us from the full range of Heathen religious expressions, understandings, and experiences because we have limited our options of what is possible. In so doing we cut off our ability to innovate, to develop new ways of living with our Ginnreginn, and to bring our experiences into the accepted customs and expression. In short, we cut off our ability to form living cultures. To be clear, reconstructionism is a methodology that relies on good data from academia to both keep the process honest and be useful to the projects we have. However, written and archaeological sources are the maps and not the territory of our lived religions. We cannot be bound not to see a mountain or valley because the map is out of date.

This gating off conversations to mostly 100-level subjects serves another purpose: it keeps a captive audience for books and other forms of media creation in its easiest-to-market niche. 100-level books tend to generate the most revenue in part because they are the only ones available to the everyday person, seeing both the widest distribution and marketing. The religion sections for most bookstores are vanishingly small, and most tend to be full of Christian books with a smattering of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish books. I have to look elsewhere for anything related to our religions, often in the New Age or similar sections, and these tend to be mostly 100-level books on witchcraft like Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham.

This trend also exists in other forms of media, including my own. I spent 19 YouTube videos exploring The Basics of Heathenry. While it did take a bit of time and work to script, record, and edit, it is information I already knew, have taught in other contexts like workshops, and required no deep vulnerability on my part to impart to others. I am fortunate in that I am not bound to this, either for purposes of income or interest, and that both 3 Pagans on Tap and Around Grandfather Fire have a lot of leeway to dig deeper and reach higher. With the initial Basics of Heathenry project finished, I can explore other topics relevant to Heathens. This takes more work, not in terms of gathering information, but willingness to be vulnerable and talk about my experiences, views, and how the shape my Heathen exoteric and esoteric practice has been changed by these.

This is an aspect of the deeper conversations seldom talked about: getting deeper into conversation and moving beyond the 101 requires a vulnerability that laying down the basic theology, praxis, and structures of Heathenry does not require. Even some 200-level conversations on subjects like the basics of how to do magic can be so dependent on one’s home culture, focus, and individual expression that it opens us up to scrutiny in ways merely talking about what magic is in Heathenry does not. For example, how one does útiseta might be a 200 or 300-level conversation. Depending on what comes out of the experiences you have with it, though, you might be having 400+-level conversations. In other words, the folks you hope to talk with about the subject at hand are going to need to have significant knowledge and experience with the topic, not merely a basic theoretical understanding, to have dialogue with you.

What information you get and what one does with the information can hit depths most folks are uncomfortable talking with. Perhaps the vaettir have touched on sensitive areas like trauma, or just subjects we are unfamliar with. Perhaps the vaettir are contravening written or archaeological evidence or including information simply not found in them. Even setting aside the esoteric side of things, developing theology, praxis, and structures beyond the basics requires us to be open to scrutiny, our methods to be open to examination, and our conclusions to be disagreed with unless we are determined to share nothing with one another.

Let me say this as clearly as possible: cultural appropriation should be condemned. Note, that I am not saying cultural appreciation or exchange should be condemned; appropriation should be. With this in mind I think it is worth us looking at what it is folks are looking for when they are reaching for pathways that are not open to them. In other words, are they reaching for something they ought not to because their own path(s) are lacking something essential they see within that culture, cultural practice, spiritual technology, etc? To be sure, some folks are reaching because they want what cannot be theirs out of a sense of entitlement. I find for those who are not, especially with white polytheists, Pagans, witches, and others in our communities who do this reaching, is that the majority of them are looking for authenticity and connection. While the desire for authenticity and connection are good things to pursue, this desire needs to be turned towards the pathways that are open to us.

If our conversations only stay in the 100, 200, or 300-level range then not only do our conversations never deepen, our experiments, experiences, and development as communities stay here as well. If we do not face our lack of resources and the new territory before us with bravery, then we condemn many of us to hunger for authenticity and connections that cannot be made without them. Rather than making a kind of Heathenry which only grasps at, or for, the spiritual technology, perspectives, information, and living wisdom of other paths, we Heathens need to dig deeper, carve surer, and explore even further with our Ginnreginn into our own forms of spiritwork, magic, folklore, and relationships with the Ginnreginn. We need to be brave enough to develop our spiritual technologies, perspectives, information, and lived wisdom with our Ginnreginn. Let us do the work to improve the soil of Heathenry for everyone as we settle our roots, communally and individually, even deeper into our Heathen religions, practices, and spiritwork.

It is easy to say “We need to talk more about x or y” or “we need to dig in deeper into a topic at such-and-such a level”. How, though, do we do that?  For starters we need to be really clear on what we mean by 100, 200, 300, and above. Are we talking for exoteric only? What about esoteric topics? Do we put exoteric and esoteric topics together, or try our best to keep them separate? I cannot answer this for everyone, I can only make my thoughts on the subject known, and hope to further dialogue. It might be that thinking of things in this way is completely backwards, or just the wrong way to go as a model. However, we do need to begin to have some dialogue about it and this is using models of experience and expertise that we have. Wherever we can, we should develop our own ways of understanding and reckoning our ideas, experiences, and expertise as animists, as polytheists, and as Heathens.

I am going to propose a structure so that we can get to deeper conversations. It is not the do-all end-all, but my hope is that it can be a good place to start. Exoteric is defined as “suitable for or communicated to the general public. not belonging, limited, or pertaining to the inner or select circle, as of disciples or intimates. popularsimplecommonplace. pertaining to the outside; exteriorexternal.” Exoteric practices, then, are those that are obvious, that anyone in a given religion can do. For Heathens these are things like hearth cultus, prayer, making offerings, and doing basic divination, such as a simple yes/no to see if an offering or sacrifice was accepted. Whatever these practices are requires no special knowledge, training, expertise, or study to do right or well.

Esoteric is defined as “understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite:poetry full of esoteric allusions. belonging to the select few. private; secret; confidential. (of a philosophical doctrine or the like) intended to be revealed only to the initiates of a group:the esoteric doctrines of Pythagoras.” Where exoteric practices are those that anyone can do, esoteric practiced are generally only regularly practiced by a handful of individuals. For Heathens, among these folks would, among many possible practices, be those who engage in Runework, seiðr, spá, and/or those who work to cultivate direct encounters with the Ginnreginn.

Now, if this last part seems like it is a mainstay of modern Pagan religions, including Heathenry, it is. A lot of modern Pagan religions in America can trace their start to the influence of Wicca. It was not and is not unusual for a lot of American animists, polytheists, Heathens, and Pagans in general to get their start in various Wiccan or Wiccan-derived religions. At some point folks in this circumstance may bring in additional religious identities or transition out of the Wiccan/Wicca-derived religion. Since Heathenry is not doctrinally exclusivist most folks bring their practices and experiences that worked from previous religions with them into it.

There are plenty of other reasons for why folks in modern Heathenry have or are incorporating esoteric practices. Some folks come into Heathenry through direct experience of the Ginnreginn and develop an exoteric practice in response to that. Other folks in modern times are actively moving away from religions which are primarily exoteric or have few accessible/desirable esoteric practies. Whatever the reason, a significant amount of folks in modern American Heathenry have religious practices that are a blend of exoteric and esoteric.

For purposes of our conversation, and to deepen it, I will put forward that most esoteric discussion is going to be 300-level for the most part. Why?

100-level subjects are the rudiments and baselines of Heathen practice. This is how to start and engage in the absolute basics of the religion. Among 100-level subjects would be about Who the Ginnreginn are, the particular Heathen cosmology one is part of and how we fit into it, how to begin and maintain a hearth cult, how to pray, how to offer, and how to maintain right relationship with the Ginnreginn.

200-level subjects build on the rudiments and baseline. This includes many of the ‘why’ for why we do a thing at the 100-level. Some folks may find it odd that I put the most of the ‘why’ behind the 200-level and not 100. The reason for that is the practice of Heathenry is something that can be understood in its basic forms by most anyone who engages in it. My young kid does not understand all the ins and outs of the religion. At the 100-level understanding the why we do a thing is simpler or is less pressing than understanding the what or how of doing something. When we make prayers at the stalli, she knows the expectation is to look at the Ginnreginn when we do so, and to bow when we are finished. It will be some time before she has the capacity to understand all the “whys” for why we do what we do.

Examples of 200-level subjects would be: connecting with Gods in ritual through the use of particular heiti, beginning reconstruction and revival work in general, and the use of basic liturgical language in ritual. I consider developing or working with liturgical language beyond some basic phrases or words, such as those used to greet Ginnreginn, to be higher than 200. It requires specialized knowledge and experience to do well. Other examples of 200-level practices would be applying genealogical resources to Ancestor cultus, engaging in more specialized cultus than the hearth like an athletic cultus or a cultus based in a field of study,  and producing religious artwork, prayers, and rituals. Using 200-level courses in college as our basis here, 200s are often the applications of the basic subjects you learned about into specialized ways that deepen your knowledge, understanding, and expertise of the subject.

300-level subjects are about building expertise from the previous levels, generally towards an object of study. In college level courses these tend to go towards Bachelor and Master degrees, and the focus is a lot narrower than the previous courses. In my experience, specific forms of psychology were covered as part of getting through my BS in Psychology program. The higher the number the more specialized and nuanced the topic, eg the lower 300s were broader like Abnormal Psychology and the higher 300s were courses like Statistics in Psychology. 400-level courses were mostly relegated to Master degrees, 600 to PhD, and 700 to postdoc courses.

Examples of 300-level subjects would be the study of seiðr, spá, Runework, and in my view, any form of spiritwork I could think of. There is a need for foundation in and grounding in the basics and study of 100 and 200-level work in order to effectively understand what we are doing, why, how it works, and what the effects of a given action can entail. That grounding in the basics of Heathenry are necessary to troubleshoot and to determine when a given form of spiritwork would be effective, or if it would be called for at all. The grounding in 100 and 200-level work is necessary for discernment for ourselves, and especially if we hope to do any of this work for others. This grounding is also necessary for developing theonyms, toponyms, and related new infromation that we can bring to bear for our communities that may not require direct experience of the Ginnreginn, yet nonetheless it requires a firm foundation of knowledge to do well.

Suffice it to say, these metaphors for where we are, and where we hope to go, have limits. There is no certification process for a spiritworker beyond the Ginnreginn and maybe a teacher and/or a given community. If folks find the metaphor clunky to the point of being unwieldy, or even find the metaphor offensive, feel free to toss it and suggest another.

In no small part, why I feel so strongly on the need for deeper conversation is that they’re happening anyhow, and developing the means for understanding where we are, where we are going, and how we wish to develop ourselves individually and communally are well within our hands. Another reason is that these more esoteric questions and subjects of study, experience, and interaction with the Ginnreginn heavily impact our communities. There is direct good and harm that comes from entertaining these ideas, let alone engaging in the study and experience of the ideas here. Far better for us to take an active interest in developing the conversations for our own sakes than to find ourselves in situations where we ahave to make judgment calls we are not prepared for. My hope is the by getting the conversation moving along we can better situate our communities for the future they will be coming into, and looking back, will see our effor

Hail Dísir!

The Blessed Women

Who guard and guide the lines

Of blood, adoption, spirit, lineage, intiation

Blessed Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives, Aunts, Grandmothers

Blessed Childbearers and Childless

Goddesses and family Nornir

Embla in Her might

Jörðmoðir beneath our feet and all around us, Miðgarðr Herself

Vísendakonur, Vitkar, Vólur, Seiðkonur, Spáknour, Reginnkonur

Bless us! Teach us! Walk with us!

Gyðjar, teach us to lead!

Læknar, teach us to heal!

Drengir, teach us to fight!

Eldrvórðr, teach us to tend!

Vísendakonur, teach us to learn!

Hail Dísir, Who organize the Ancestors!

Hail Dísir, Who bring magic and blessings!

Hail Dísir, Who ever walk with us!

Hail Dísir!

Hail Dísir!

Hail Dísir!

Calling to Our Ancestors 2nd Edition

Hey folks. I am putting together the 2nd Edition of Calling to Our Ancestors. I have the outline written. I am looking for contributors. Do you have Ancestor workers’ voices you think should be included? Poems, prayers, songs, essays, artwork, rituals, etc that you are allowed to share?

Prayers, poems, and rituals can be as long or short as you feel called to write them. Artwork should be at least 300 dpi preferably in lossless formats so it prints well on publication. Essays should be at minimum 700 words. All contributors retain rights to their work. If you are interested in contributing please contact me at sarenth@gmail.com. I will need a legal name and address to send a release form to you, as well as what name you would like the work published under.

I am looking to pull together as many resources for folks as I can. Do you have videos, eg on YouTube or documentaries you would recommend covering Ancestors, Ancestor work, rituals, etc? Podcasts? Books? Audiobooks and written? Blogs? Folks that are trusted Ancestor workers?

My aim with this 2nd Edition is to address what folks were most often telling me they wanted from the 1st Edition: more information on actually venerating and working with the Ancestors.

I have finally begun to put my fingers to the keys again to get the initial outline copied over from my Tūl notebook to my Google Docs.

This is what the outline currently looks like. I am having an issue getting it to look exactly like my outline in Google Docs, since I organize I, A, i, then a, and WordPress is being frustrating with formatting.

  1. Introduction
    1. Dedication
    2. Foreword
    3. Notes on the Second Edition
  2. The Ancestors
    1. Who They Are
    2. Worship and Veneration
    3. A Basic Polytheist Ancestor Altar and/or Shrine
    4. Offerings
    5. Acts of Service
    6. Sacrifice
    7. Expanding Ancestors
      1. Marriage
      2. Employment
      3. Profession/Craft
      4. Adoption
      5. Initiation/Acceptance into a Lineage
      6. Death
    8. Reducing Ancestors
      1. Divorce
      2. Retirement/Firing
      3. Putting a craft/job down
      4. Cutting out/leaving family/relatives
      5. Removal/Leaving/Exile, eg excommunication in Christianity, ADF stripping Bonewitz’ ancestry
      6. Not worshiping/venerating abusive dead people
    9. Ancestor Veneration vs Worship vs Work
      1. Definitions
      2. Differences between them
      3. Similarities
    10. Talking With The Ancestors
      1. Divination
      2. Dreams
      3. Clairaudience, clairsentience, etc.
      4. Speaking out loud at the altar/shrine
      5. Rituals
    11. Rituals for Connection
      1. Regular devotionals
      2. Sample devotional rites
      3. Simple
        1. Drinking a cup of coffee/tea/water with the Ancestors after a simple cleansing
      4. Complex
        1. At least once a week making prayers and leaving an offering on the shrine and cleaning it within a prescribed time.
      5. Prayer beads
        Special events, eg marriage, coming of age, etc
      6. Funerary Rites
      7. Rituals for Healing
      8. Rituals for Reconciliation
        1. With living descendents present, eg the victims of a dead abuser coming together and holding him to account with the Ancestors
        2. Bringing healing to Ancestors through a healing ritual bringing the powerful Ancestors together with one’s Gods of healing and family lines.
      9. Rituals for Reckoning
        1. Abusive dead in the line
        2. Wrongs done by one’s Ancestors to another’s
        3. Independent cutting of cords so a harmful Ancestor is outside of your cultus until and unless they do right.
    12. Open Doors -Ancestor Workers
      1. What They Are
      2. What They Do
      3. Basic Skills
      4. Being Called
      5. Doing the Work
  3. Essays
  4. Rituals
  5. Prayers
  6. Resources
    1. Ancestor Books (print, digital, and audiobook)
    2. YouTube, podcasts, and other media on Ancestors and Ancestor work
    3. People willing to be contacted for Ancestor Work

Patreon Topic 61: On The Year of Aun

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“Year of Aun. What is it? When is it? Resources for folks looking to know more? What are you planning for it and how can folks join in if they want to?”

The Year of Aun 2023 Celebration designed by Ludvig Levin, used with permission from Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen

What is the Year of Aun?

The Year of Aun is a celebration of the realignment of ourselves with the world, and accordingly, the Ginnreginn (the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir) we share it with. It is a year of healing ceremonies to bring us back into alignment with being good Ancestors with the example of the worst: that of Aun himself.

The Wikipedia entry on Aun the Old is not bad. However, it is not as deep as the sources and interpretation provided to us by Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen and Jósúa Hróðgeir Rood, the latter of whom coined the term Year of Aun. So, what are our sources? Thankfully, when I asked him, Rune provided me these:

Thietmar of Merseburg:
“Because I have heard marvellous things about their ancient sacrifices, I will not allow these to pass unnoticed. In those parts, the centre of the kingdom [of the Danes] is a place called Lejre, in the region of Seeland. Every nine years, in the month of January, after the day of which we celebrate the appearance of the Lord [6 January], they all convene here and offer their gods a burnt offering of ninety-nine human beings and as many horses along with dogs and cock – the latter being used in place of hawks. As I have said, they were convinced that these would do service for them with those who dwell beneath the earth and ensure their forgiveness for any misdeeds.” Thietmar of Merseburg, Book 1: 17. Here quoted from: Ottonian Germany. The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg. Translated and annotated by David A. Warner. Manchester University Press 2001, p. 80

Adam of Bremen:
“For all their gods there are appointed priests to offer sacrifices for the people. If plague and famine threaten, a libation is poured to the idol Thor; if war, to Wotan; if marriages are to be celebrated, to Frikko. It is customary also to solemnize in Uppsala, at nine-year intervals, a general feast of all the provinces of Sweden. From attendance at this festival no one is exempted Kings and people all and singly send their gifts to Uppsala and, what is more distressing than any kind of punishment, those who have already adopted Christianity redeem themselves through these ceremonies. The sacrifice is of this nature: of every living thing that is male, they offer nine heads with the blood of which it is customary to placate gods of this sort. The bodies they hang in the sacred grove that adjoins the temple. Now this grove is so sacred in the eyes of the heathen that each and every tree in it is believed divine because of the death or putrefaction of the victims. Even dogs and horses hang there with men. A Christian told me that he had seen 72 bodies suspended promiscuously. Furthermore, the incantations customarily chanted in the ritual of a sacrifice of this kind are manifold and unseemly; therefore, it is better to keep silent about them.”

These are Rune’s own thoughts on The Year of Aun through his website on Nordic Animism. You can read the full post here. I have reprinted the bullet points and the thrust of why we celebrate it with his permission.

“• We are Aun as our economic order is based on camoflaged, structural violence against other humans in other parts of the world.
• We are Aun as our endless consumerism reduces us to paralyzed captives of luxury and indifference.
• We are Aun in our acceptance of the gruesome and life-annihilating behaviour toward the non-human or other-than-human beings that give us life by becoming our food.
• We are Aun in our complicity in the omnicidal attack on all life by which Western civilization is mercilessly driving us towards the biggest collapse in the history of life for 66 million years.
• We are Aun in our loss of social connectedness to the people closest to us, as our social instincts are being hacked by synthetic systems that enclose us in algorithm-generated mirror cabinets that enhance our stupidest and basest sides and erode the political and social debates that should hold our societies together.
 We are Aun as we are the worst imaginable ancestors.

The Aun year is about acknowledging that we are Aun and calling on the healing of those pathological and abusive patterns with which our society and social order is predicated on violence and mistreatment of our world and of others in our world. That is why we will recover and celebrate the ancient tradition of the octennial celebration in “the Aun year of 2023”, a term coined by Jósúa Hróðgeir Rood as a call for the whole of 2023 to be a year under the theme of healing the rupture.”

When is the Year of Aun celebrated?

Per Rune on Nordic Animism: “We therefore call on you to participate in the ways that you find meaningful, both on the specific days that mark the octennial celebrations in 2023 and throughout the year (January 6 in Lejre and March 6 in Uppsala).”

Rune suggests we celebrate in these ways:

“Make Aun-themes for your 2023 celebrations. Make pilgrimages to regional sacred sites. Celebrate this year of Healing: make rituals for it, pray for it, dance for it, dialogue about it, celebrate it in your gatherings and festivals, call for the cyclical healing of the Aun year. Sacrifice elements of your life ways that derive from the abusive aspects society. Make oaths under the rune of Aun to change life ways that are predicated on destruction.”

Rune for the Year of Aun used with permission from Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen

My plans for the Year of Aun 2023

I plan on following in the steps that Rune has laid out here. Starting with the Yule celebration December 21, 2022, and continuing it in 2023 starting on January 6th. These first rituals will lay the groundwork for a series of both personal and communal rituals that will be oriented the work of healing our relationship with and to Jörð, and being better Ancestors. The pilgrimages I take will be oriented around sacred places where I live in Michigan, such as my local stream, rivers, and the Great Lakes. I began a pilgrimage working several years ago, starting with Lake Superior in which I was inspired to make a Heathen poem for the Great Lakes.

The healing work with the land we have already begun in our home will continue, as will my work with Crossing Hedegrows Sanctuary and Farm and the powerful work we as a community do with the land there. Crossing Hedgerows itself is a sacred site, and so the rituals I do there will be oriented around the healing work we do with the land. I invite folks of good will to contact us and work with us at the Sanctuary in good Gebo with the landvættir.

What does this healing work with the land look like? Something Jean of Crossing Hedgerows has taught me in my years of working with her is to just sit with the land and watch what it does already. That is how they began to heal the land they live on and with. It was severely abused farmland. I remember the land before they moved into their home. It was a monocrop farm operation being seeded, sprayed, harvested, and sprayed again year on year in a vicious cycle. They let the land rest, recover, and watched. They observed the first year. Over time they encouraged the land through berms, swales, the erecting of a hoophouse, and partnering with their chickens to do what it wanted to do, growing food forests alongside everything else. Crossing Hedgerows Sanctuary and Farm is a living example of partnering with the landvættir in healing.

My family and I are taking these lessons in healing and applying them with our relationship with the landvættir we live with. This first year we have planted a small garden in the garden plot the previous owners made, letting the strawberries and various plants they left here grow. Aside from this, and one shave of the land with a lawnmower, we have left the land be. We are letting Them show us what is here, what They want to do, and then we will assess in the early Spring with Them what to do next.

How can folks join in celebrating the Year of Aun with me?

Join the work with my community at Crossing Hedgerows. Reach out and develop rituals for persona and communal healing. Develop mutual aid networks in your own communities and between ours so we rely less and less on the capitalist systems ravaging not only Jörð, but our landvættir and our communities. Share places of pilgrimage with one another.

An idea I have had that has resonance with ancient Scandinavian rituals is the idea of the procession wagon. In those days a wagon with a representation of Freyr would go around to the various towns and bring blessings and healing. Celebrations would be had, and armed conflict would cease while Freyr was present. We could do this in the modern age, with a person or group bringing representations of the Gods, such as Jörð, Freyr, Freyja, and Njörðr, to folks in our area interested in receiving Them. With the return of Their representations being done in a sacred place by the communities They have touched. We could partner with Crossing Hedgerows and/or with interested people and their communities in their sacred places to bring this sacred procession in the Year of Aun to various places.

The Year of Aun is calling us to bring the beauty and power each of us can to the Work of this Year. Each of us who dedicates their time, power, beauty, and work to this Year of Aun helps carry on that healing work with our Ginnreginn to future Years. Each of us has something to contribute, to bring to bear. Each of us has our own work to do. Each of our communities their own work to do. All who celebrate the Year collectively have their work. Each of us contribute to the healing between ourselves and Jörð and our Gods and vættir of the Earth, the betterment of ourselves as Ancestors, and good Gebo with our Ginnreginn.

 

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 59: For The Queer Ancestors

If you want to submit a request for a prayer, poem, or song to be written to you privately or to be posted on this blog or my Patreon for a God, Ancestor, or spirit, sign up for the Ansuz and above level here on my Patreon.

This request was made by Emi for The Queer Ancestors.

You were known by countless names

Spoken with awe and reverence

Respect and beloved in your places

You were and are divine

You ranged the world in multitudes

Blessing the peoples

Guiding the peoples

You were and are divine

You were feared and famed

Kings and concubines

Magicians and mystery-keepers

You were and are divine

Loving, leading, following, and fighting

Healing and helping

Sending and striking

You were and are divine

The peoples lost their ways

Denigrated and despised

Abused and abandoned

You were and are divine

In desperate times You triumphed

In death and destitution You remained

Steadfast and strong You worked

You were and are divine

We have found one another

Holding each other close and weeping

Loving boundless and raging

You were and are divine

You are known by many names

We know You, Queer Ancestors

We call You, Queer Ancestors

You were and are divine

All you have been and all that will be

Bless us and be with us, Queer Ancestors

Show us Your Working and Ways again!

You were and are divine

Ever offered and honored

We keep You, Queer Ancestors

We love You, Queer Ancestors

You were and are divine

Patreon Topic 60: On Cleansing Tools

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Lisa comes this topic:

“An idea for topic/post: if you do any sort of craft and use stuff you make for devotional purposes, what would you do to cleanse any tools you use?”

The cleansing techniques I use most often in my spiritwork also work well for my crafting tools. These are:

Cleansing by breath. Breathing in deeply, then exhaling slowly. While I do this I visualize connecting with Yggdrasil. As I inhale and exhale, I breathe with Yggdrasil. I remember my connection to Yggdrasil by our Ancestors Askr and Embla, Ash and Elm, and to the first breaths that Óðinn gave to us. When I have cleansed myself, I then breathe over my items in a similar way. By doing this I become the conduit for cleansing.

Cleansing by fire. I make the Fire Prayer, a simple prayer that goes like this:

“Hail Sons and Daughters of Muspelheim. Hail Fire Itself! Hail Sunna! Hail Loki! Hail Glut! Hail Lögi! Hail Surtr! Hail Sinmora! Hail Eldest Ancestor! Hail Eldrvaettr! Ves Þu heil!”

I then light a candle, and circle it over myself in a sunwise direction, thanking the eldrvaettr, fire spirit, for cleansing me. I then either repeat the motion over the items or pass the items through or around the fire sunwise to cleanse any items before me that need it. Fire does not have to directly touch the items, particularly if they are flammable, so raising them well above the fire or raising the candle and making three circles sunwise over the item to be cleansed will do well.

Cleansing by smoke. I start with the Fire Prayer and then, I give thanks to the vaettr of the plant or substance I am going to burn. I burn whatever is going to work with me to cleanse the item/area by smoke in a fire safe container. I make sure not to make it too smoky and make myself or others cough. I most often work with Ama Una, Grandmother Joy, aka Ama Malurt, Grandmother Mugwort. As with cleansing by Fire, I pass the smoke over or the items through the smoke three times in a clockwise manner. Be sure if you are doing this that you or others do not have allergies to the mugwort or related plants, such as wormwood, or other plants that hit on similar allergy points like ragweed, sunflower, or feverfew. If you do, working with another plant may be advised. Working with a given plant in water as opposed to burning it may also be needed for folks who are traveling, partners or pets with sensitivities, and/or a change of pace.

Cleansing by liquid. Whether this is a suspension of herbs in oil or oil on its own, a tincture, a tisane, cleaning chemicals, simply adding water and herbs together to make a cleansing holy water, or sprinkling an area/item with water after prayers, there are a variety of options to choose from. A given crafting tool may be easier to clean/preserve/sharpen with one method vs another, eg sharpening a wood chisel with a blessed oil to cleanse it and keep it well. As with the other methods I make simple prayers, thanking the vaettr of whatever the liquid is in helping me cleanse the item. I then clean or wipe the tool down as is appropriate. Depending on what item I am making and what is required to make it, I may do this process before and after the time I dedicate to crafting.

To a certain extent the limit is what medium(s) you are working in, what is most appropriate to the long-term care of your craft and tools relevent to it, and if anything, what care needs to be taken with the items you are crafting and the area it takes place in. Cleansing before and after a crafting session is highly recommended, even if all you are doing is sitting in a chair and crocheting, knitting, or beading. Keeping the process and tools clean, particularly if you are crafting items for ritual use, will keep the focus of the items and area, and can prove both powerfully meditative and connective with various Ginnreginn.

These are just a few examples of what you can do in order to cleanse and prepare tools and areas for work. A lot of what I have found works really well in both small and large jobs are the simpler ways that, if need arises, can be made more complex. Starting with simple ritual actions, like the three breaths to cleanse yourself then another object and a simple prayer, connects the dots of spiritwork you have done up to this point and the Ginnreginn you carry relationships with into the work at hand. Adding on layers, like cleansing with three breaths, then making the Fire Prayer and working with a candle as Sacred Fire to cleanse the work space, and finally, finishing cleansing and preparation by marking tools with oil to cleanse and consecrate, are ways of building up from these basic techniques that carry over into deep, good work.

On a Threshold

I am waiting on a threshold

The door is cool and warm

Excitement rings through me

What is on the other side?

A new experience, a new path

Out of reach and aching close

Something sings to my heart there

Beautiful tones and throbbing bass

Shaking through my bones

I am scared, thrilled, intimidated

To hear a call, a beckoning

To walk through the portal

Not yet, not yet the singers call

The iron wood unyielding

Implacable and promising

Soon, soon the singers utter

The threshold’s sentinel waits

To open its arms in invitation

I stand waiting

Eager and attentive

Ready to cross the way

I Thank You, Ancestors

I thank You, Ancestors

For all my Siblings

For all my Brothers

For all my Sisters

For all my Kyn

Ancestors by Blood and Bone

Ancestors by Adoption

Ancestors by Lineage

Ancestors by Spirit

Disir

Fedrar

Ergi

þverr

Thank You for Life

Thank You for Your Blessings

Thank You for Your Protection

Thank You for Your Power

Thank You for Your Healing

Thank You for Your Wisdom

Thank You for Your Guidance

Thank You for Your Connections

Thank You for Your Love

Hail to You All

Ves þu heil!

Patron Topic 57: On Spirit World Politics Part 1

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“Would you mind discussing, as much as you can, your experience with politics in the spirit world, especially with how it can involve practitioners?”

I think that whether or not you understand there being politics in the spirit world is going to come down to your theological position on things. Within polytheism there is a breadth to understanding we can have regarding the way the cosmos was formed and functions. If you understand the Gods as being perfect, whole, unto Themselves and utterly benevolent, then politics as we understand them taking place within the various spirit Worlds may not make much sense. My own worldview is that the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir are many, and so, among a great many things, politics varies between and among Them all.

Defining Politics and Exploring the Spiritual Implications

Before we go on, though, what do I mean when I am writing on ‘politics’? The Oxford English Dictionary define politics as “The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” I also find 1.5’s definition useful: “The assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society.” These definitions work for our purposes.

We clearly have different political setups in the various home cultures these Gods were first worshipped by, eg chieftain-style in Nordic, and pharaonic with Kemetic. This can quickly get into “Is it the chicken or the egg?” type of questioning regarding a given political system. Since, as I understand it, the Gods are part of the undergirding of reality in profound ways, whether the political systems emerged from Them or not, all things are grounded in the Gods. I think it is entirely possible that some Gods favor certain political systems over the others, particularly when it comes to Gods who benefit from the establishment of Their order. It is also possible that a God may prefer no political system in particular.

Part of the reason I am not being too cut and dry here is because, while it is possible a given God may prefer a political system, They may have preferred a system They insituted but no longer exists, changed Their viewpoint over time, and/or Their view varies by political subject and Their worshipers at a given point in time. They may just be fine with taking us as we are now. It may also be a difference in interest even within a given God, eg Rúnatýr may not care as much as Óðinn about political organizations, hierarchy, etc, or only care insofar as these things matter with regard to understanding and working with the Runes. I also think it is entirely possible for one group of people to get one answer from a given God or an aspect of that God and for an entire separate group of people to get another answer and still be validly praying to, offering to, and communing with that God.

As if this is not complex enough on its own, add in the various vaettir, including our Ancestors and that of other vaettir such as landvaettir, Álfar, Dvergar, Jötnar, Aesir, Vanir, trolls, and so on. Every single vaettir, since They are a Being unto Themselves, may and likely does have varying political concerns from one another. I am also not assuming we are going to wander the Worlds and find that the Álfar have read and agreed with Kropotkin or the Dvergar with regard to Adam Smith or John Stuart Mills. Indeed, if I understand that each vaettr, that each spirit, is a Being Unto Themselves and the potential that I have as a being living and growing in Miðgarð is no less available to any other, then not only may each group of vaettir have Their own ideas of political theory, these may be more or less compatible with my own.

All of this is to say that anything I, or anyone else would have to say regarding our experiences of and with politics, political bodies, and views we have received from various Ginnreginn (Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir) in our communing with Them is our experience, and accordingly, the interpretation and understanding we have of it. I understand myself as an ecosocialist, that is, my politics’ first concern is right relationship with the environment, ecological care, and ecological justice. My framing and understanding of economics flowing from this: that the means of production should be owned and operated by the People rather than moneyed interests, and that for the People to have a good life the economy must comport with the limits of and be in right relationship with nature. Understanding my political perspectives allows me to compare and contrast between those of Others that I may experience in communing with the Ginnreginn, that is, the Gods, Ancestor, and vaettir. I also recognize that my political worldview may have everything or nothing to do with whether a given Ginnreginn wishes to develop a relationship with me. None of the Ginnreginn are monoliths.

Even to say that the Ginnreginn have politics is controversial. In part, it is because it is often seen as an invitation to Folkish and White Supremacists that they might be right. I want to put that to rest right now: this understanding that the Ginnreginn only can develop relationships with what we in modern times understand as white people unnecessarily limits the Ginnreginn’s ability to form and maintain relationships. It is an unncessary burden placed on Them by racist idealogues. Óðinn alone has crossed what we understand in modern terms to be lines of race, sex, gender, political, and ideological boundaries in His quests for knowledge, power, and wisdom. It is also ahistorical to ancient and medieval Scandinavians, who we take understanding and inspiration from, as going finnfarar or fara til finna to learn seiðr is remarked on in sagas. See The Viking Way by Neil Price, pg 225, for examples of this.

Basics of My Views on Spiritual Politics

So, all of this being said and out of the way, to Maleck’s topic request: “Would you mind discussing, as much as you can, your experience with politics in the spirit world, especially with how it can involve practitioners?”

Part of the core of polytheist and animist religions and thought are the formation and maintaining of relationships. While most Heathens are exoteric, Maleck specifically asks about practitioners, to which I take to mean spiritworkers of all kinds, magicians, and folks I will call heimrgangr, world-walker. In other words, these are folks who are engaged with esoteric practices.

I understand that the Ginnreginn have politics and are bound up in them not only in regard to relationships with us, They also are bound up with each Other in this way as well. I am fairly limited to what I can competently talk about here with regards to Gods and spirits outside of my particular Heathen worldview. In a way, limiting the conversation to Heathenry will help to highlight what politics can look like to folks when you develop and maintain relationships with a variety of Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.

I carry a number of baseline assumptions with regards to how I understand the Heathen Ginnreginn. First, we shall regard the Gods. I generally approach the Aesir, Vanir, and various Jötnar as tribes rather than separate species. Many of these tribes have Gods within them that share attributes, such as þórr and Farbauti being Gods associated with and/or wielding lightning and thunder. How They relate to these things and how They relate to us through these things is also part of our relationships, including political dimensions. I understand that many Jötnar are part of or aligned with natural forces, and so, there are Jötnar connected to Earth, Air, Ice, Fire, Water, as well as those connected with natural places such as bodies of water and mountains, and then there are Jötnar connected with natural Beings such as trees, wolves and elk. Mixed in an among these various Jötnar there are those that are easiest to refer to as being ‘monstrous’.

Many of the members, including but not exclusively Gods from these tribe intermarry, such as Freyr and Gerðr, adding complexity to Their relationships with one another and with us. What I find beautiful is that this complexity adds depth and nuance not only to our understanding of our Gods as Beings unto Themselves, it also adds this to the various things our Gods represent, teach, and impart through Their stories. In appreciating our Gods’ complexities we can better appreciate our own, and the varieties of interconnectedness there.

Coming to understanding that our relationships with our Gods have political dimensions has powerful implications for where we are in relationships with all our Ginnreginn, and all the things that follow from that. A relatively simple example is Jörð. Jörð is a Jötun, the Earth Herself. She is the mother of Þórr. So, anyone who says carte blanche that they are enemies of the Jötnar is literally admitting to being an enemy of the Earth. Anyone ascribing to Þórr a universal hatred of Jötnar is attributing a hatred to Him of His own Mother. So, declaring ourselves or the Gods as carte blanch enemies of this or that tribe, or this or that group of vaettir ignores the complexity of relationships that the Ginnreginn inhabit. By making such a declaration it is entirely to end up an enemy to a good many of the Gods in Heathenry.

This is not to say we need to like, befriend, or worship every God to have good relationships with those in our hearths. You do not have to like or worship Óðinn to worship Frigg or Þórr. Respect, though, is important. We gain nothing by disrespecting the Ginnreginn, especially ones Who are close to those we worship.

As we gain relationships with different Gods our relationships with different tribes or families of the Gods may change as well. In my own case I did not worship Loki or any of His Family starting off as a Heathen. I came to worship Loki after knowing and worshipping Óðinn. From coming to know and worship Loki I came to know and then worship Angrbóða, Jörmangandr, Fenris, and Sigyn. I went from fearing Fenris and refusing to worship Him, to worshipping Him in a “here’s an offering now please leave me the fuck alone”, to “You eat my Father at Rágnarök. I don’t like You for that….but I can understand You.” It is far, far too easy to merely cast Fenris as an out-of-control monster and that is all He is. If I love and count Loki as among the Gods most dear to me, for all the shit He catches from Heathens, let alone His fellow Gods, I should at least be willing to give His Son respect and try to understand His Children.

Not everyone is going to give Fenris that, and I get that. I used to feel intensely antagonistic towards Fenrisúlfr. Over time, though, as I came to deepen my understanding and relationship with Loki I softened, not only because I’m also a Dad, but because I loved Loki. How could I so viciously despise His Son for fulfilling what amounted to a self-fulfilling prophecy that Óðinn helped to propagate by His own actions? I have been in a situation where the weight of expectation has hurt me and then the people around me. If I could see that in myself I can see that in Fenris’ myths too. I found, as I explored these feelings and how I related to Fenris, what I was reacting too was far less Him, and more the feelings He brings up, and my own ‘inner monster’. The personal sure is political.

Ancestors can be a bit more personal. I reckon Ancestors as anyone who is part of our ancestry whether that is by blood, adoption, Ginnreginn, and/or initiated lineage. So, They easily intersect between various Ginnreginn. In my own case I do not understand nor came to understand the last name Odinsson lightly. There is connection with Óðinn as Father there, and it ripples out into all the relationships I have. Some of my blood Ancestors are staunch Catholics, and will refuse to have anything to do with me because of this. Some of my initiated lineage Ancestors happen to be Wiccan because I was initiated into Georgian Tradition Wicca around 2007, 2008. No offense to Them, I just do not interact with Them much. They’re still there, though, and worthy of honor.

I take the use of the word “Brother”, “Sister”, “Sibling”, etc quite seriously. The use of that word implies a closeness, a host of obligations and responsibilities to one another. It means that I would lay down my life for you. It also means that we share Ancestors on acceptance of the term. So, I tend to cringe when folks at work or random Heathens I have never met call me “Brother”. When I call folks “Brother”, “Sister”, “Sibling”, etc that means your Ancestors are getting honored at my Ancestor stalli, and, if you have one, mine should be too.

So politically, Ancestors are interesting. They are flexible in some ways because we can take Them in from others, and get brought into Their circles by Them, other Ginnreginn, and other people. Then, They can also be fairly inflexible -our blood Ancestors are who They are whether or not we relate to these Ancestors. Many Ancestors, especially blood Ancestors, can be fraught with issues depending on the history we have. We may have Ancestral traumas that were dealt to our families that we are dealing with and may need to resolve, or those that our Ancestors inflicted on others. Suffice it to say, our Ancestors’ stories have political dimensions, ones it would help not to ignore.

Vaettir run the gamut of being part of the Aesir, Vanir, or Jötnar, to Álfar, Dvergar, fylgja (follower vaettir), landvaettir, vaettir of various elements, and every variety in between. They can be as big as a galaxy, and perhaps bigger, or as tiny as a grain of sand, and perhaps smaller. They can occupy any of the Nine Worlds. Us flesh-bound human beings are vaettir. We just happen to have physical bodies here in Miðgarðr. All of us, whatever World we are part of, have political dimensions we ought to consider as part of relating to and understanding one another. That would ideally start here, in our own World, and extend outward as we develop and maintain relationships as Heathens with the Ginnreginn.

This post, even as basic as it is, is already getting to the point of being fairly large on its own. I cannot hope to cover everything in exhaustive detail even if I made a series of posts like these though I am finding them fun to explore and develop. In the next post, On Spirit World Politics Part 2, I will explore some of these topics in more detail. Particularly, I am interested in exploring the way politics can shake out with esoteric folks, including the political implications of spirit travel, how magic in other worlds can operate, and how these things impact our relationships spiritually and politically.

For the Ukranian Peoples

Update: for those who want to donate to causes that directly help the Ukrainian peoples, I was given this link by Snow. It has a list of charities and causes that you can give to, the text of the original post was written by the Kyiv Independent.

May the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir bless and be with the Ukrainian peoples.

May the húsvaettir stand strong.

May the landvaettir be mighty.

May the Ancestors inspire, comfort, and uphold.

May the Gods steel and strengthen them all.

Ves Þu heil!